Category Archives: Republicrats

Politics and white Privilege: Reflections on Why I Voted for Obama

Several months ago I came to the conclusion that I would never vote again, and decided it was some kind of meaningful decision aligned perfectly with my radical politics. I thought I would ignore the Presidential election entirely, assuming this would allow me to exist outside the US system of government. If this sounds similar to the white fantasy that we can exist outside the system of white privilege when we “think differently,” that’s because it’s almost identical. I am implicated in both systems whether I am a willing or unwilling participant, aware or unaware, and I don’t know of any cancer patients that became immune to the disease simply by ignoring it. As I’ve watched this election cycle unfold (by far one of the most appalling examples of wasted money that “modern” humans have ever known), I have reflected on what it says about my white privilege to even assume the freedom I have to abstain from voting is a “moral” freedom and to assume this decision is a “radical” one.

Full disclosure from the very beginning: I agree with several highly respected friends of color that voting is a colonial franchise. It reinforces the structural power of a neocolonial system (the US government), the foundation for which was formal European colonialism. It’s a uniquely white privilege to reflect on US national heritage with pride and nostalgia, and the “pioneering” ideas behind the creation of the US nation-state that never applied to Indigenous and ethnic “others.” I agree that voting is essentially an act of supporting this history and its influence on the contemporary moment. As per usual with a white person, however, my political position is completely different, and because of my privilege the stakes are not as high for me in any given election.

What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to the majority of white folks if Obama is re-elected? The wealthiest of us might have to pay higher taxes? I don’t really need to think about the few unfortunate consequences I might personally suffer if Romney is elected, which means I have the white privilege to vote for myself and satisfy my own politics.. or not. I can dislike both candidates—one significantly more so than the other—and I could’ve spent this election as a “radical conscientious objector” instead of a voter, but my white privilege is unaltered either way. So I also agree with many respected POC bloggers and writers who argue that no vote for President Obama could amount to the election of Mitt Romney, which would mean worse conditions for many POC in this country.

I have no illusions that I achieved political oneness with “democracy” today because I decided, after all, to vote for Obama. What does the idea of “democracy” really mean when states like Ohio and Florida could decide an entire election? I recently had a discussion with a white feminist about electoral politics, one in which she claimed a certain group of people should “get their shit together and vote” if they wanted certain rights in the US. Not only was she perpetuating the white liberal fantasy that anyone can completely overhaul their social problems with democratic agency, but she was also suggesting that voting is the ultimate solution to any given issue. I could be wrong, but I have to seriously doubt that anti-colonial ideas have ever been viable voting measures. Folks with white skin can simultaneously be aware that the region called the “Southwest” was stolen from Mexico and Indigenous peoples, then claim voting will somehow effectively address this situation. When has “give Mexico back to Mexican and Indigenous people” ever been on a ballot anywhere in the US?

A revolution is not going to happen in the US at a ballot box, and I’m not a fan of every single Obama policy—particularly not the one that effectively means voting for him amounts to voting for more deportations of Latin@ immigrants. But Romney’s ideas on immigration? “Hey, pull yourselves up by your boot straps and self-deport.” Hear ye, hear ye, the colonizer proclaims the Natives shall leave voluntarily from their own land. It’s not better that I voted for Obama, but it would have been worse had I voted for that. Not voting for the alternative gives the worst case scenario a much better chance. I don’t think Obama is the “lesser of two evils,” I think Mitt Romney is yet another financially elite, racially privileged, homophobic, patriarchal, and white supremacist politician that does not deserve to be given more power than he has already enjoyed. Simply put: Romney is worse, and, if elected, would be much worse for communities of color. He wants to dissolve Indigenous sovereignty, which is enough of a reason to vote against him, whether you’re drinking the “democracy” koolaid or not.

Although there are political struggles aimed at disrupting and deconstructing the two-party binary system that dominates US campaigns for office, I don’t know that there will ever be such a thing as a “good vote” or a “good politician” within a corrupt system. Even my vote for President Obama was not a “good vote,” it was a vote against Romney. There have been countless moment’s in Obama’s Presidency that I have imagined how different he might be if he was not forced to operate within the confines of a necolonial and white supremacist system. I think of all the moments he could not be the candidate so many voters wanted him to be in 2008 precisely because of this system. I imagine maybe there are days when he goes to work as Bill Clinton and goes home as Malcolm X. Perhaps the problem is not so much the politician, but the faith voters have in a corrupt government and the promise that this institution, if run by the “right person,” will create the social welfare and “equality” it was supposedly designed to deliver.

I might prefer abolishing the system altogether to find a different way of life, but, as long as it is still in place, I will vote against the worst and most horrifying candidates competing to control it. This is not a heroic, ethical, or revolutionary stance—it is being the lesser of two evils as a white person.

Assuming Romney does get elected, I wonder what will be said about a “post-racial America” then. Will folks say the country is still “post-racial” just because half of its population once elected a Black male? Will they reflect fondly and say, “Remember that Black President we had.. that one time?”

—DD

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The “Don’t Re-Nig” Campaign and white Denial

So the Republican website that created this image, Stumpy’s Stickers, was supposedly shut down in March of this year, seeing as their products behind a national campaign were based on a racist play on the word “renege.” The site is still there and fully functioning. It includes an industrial strength roll of Confederate flag stickers sold in bulk with 500 per roll, stickers with phrases such as “Tequila: Mexican Holy Water,” and an image of a billboard comparing President Obama to Hitler. A Republican small business owner in South Dakota recently decided to continue the racist spirit of the “Don’t Re-Nig” campaign by displaying a sign with this exact slogan on it. Twice. On both sides.

This is what she had to say in her defense:

“I had no intention of trying to be racist,” said Mary Snyder, who put the sign outside the business. “It’s just ridiculous. It’s a political sign, my opinion. They think I’m slandering, uh, n*****s. That’s not it.”

Snyder said she didn’t know about the controversial national campaign. She said she intended the sign to say “Don’t Renege,” which means not to go back on a promise, undertaking or contract.

First of all, she just said the N word. Any statement that begins with “I wasn’t trying to be racist” and is followed with the word “n***ers” immediately disproves its own point. Never underestimate the power of white denial, something so ingrained it compels us to insist we aren’t racist, then comfortably use the N word in practically the same sentence. Does anyone really believe that a white person who freely says the N word to reporters didn’t “intend” to reference it on a sign? And if she intended to say “Don’t Renege,” then why didn’t she just write that on the sign? Twice. On both sides.

Second of all, whether or not she knew about the larger campaign is irrelevant. Nowhere in the interview does she claim to have misspelled the word “Renege.” There’s some meaningless discussion of what her “intentions” were, but no following explanation of why she went with “Re-Nig” instead. Was it an accident? She didn’t say it was. Will she change it now that she understands the pejorative association? She didn’t say that either. In fact, she refused to apologize for it. Her plan is that of most whites: deny racism, then hide racism behind the First Amendment. Protecting the “freedom” of hate speech = white supremacy.

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A Quick Note to white Republicans

For every white Republican who wants to claim their “grand” old party abolished slavery, championed Abraham Lincoln, supported Civil Rights legislation, and had MLK Jr. within its ranks: none of this absolves fellow white Republicans of the crazy racist shit they pull in the present day.

First of all, something that existed 200 years ago is not going to be exactly the same in the contemporary moment. What Republicans did in the past doesn’t change what Republicans are doing now. The same goes for the Democratic party, which I don’t give a shit about defending. Having a debate about Republicans and Democrats that long ago is essentially a debate about which group of powerful white men compared and contrasted to another group of powerful white men. The nature of this debate has changed very little. Despite having a Black president, it’s still a matter of white majority party versus white majority party in the US. So even if the subject is The Civil Rights Act of 1964, it isn’t much of an impressive or mind-altering knowledge drop considering one white majority party mostly voted for it and the other white majority party mostly voted against it. “These apples once had a slightly nicer taste than these other apples” isn’t much of an argument.

Then there’s Honest Abe with his Emancipation Proclamation. A well-intentioned executive order, I’ll give you that, but claiming it abolished slavery is… a gross exaggeration and a horrendously inaccurate overstatement. Freeing some slaves from chattel slavery =/= abolishing chattel slavery. Emancipation was more of a political solution to secessionist violence in the South (see the Civil War), and it took a considerable amount of time for any freeing of slaves to actually occur. It was issued as a “necessary war measure,” not a social justice document. The Supreme Court had already passed the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which made it impossible for slaves to become citizens on the basis of them being less than human and voided the Missouri Compromise as “unconstitutional,” making slavery legal in all US territories. Only the Supreme Court (white male majority for centuries) had the power to legally abolish slavery.

The fact that you have to remind people that MLK Jr. was a Republican speaks volumes about how important his political affiliation was and is to the party itself. Republican politicians and pundits in the US rarely, if ever, speak with pride about Dr. King as a party member and/or use his image to promote their platforms and policies. Glenn Beck appropriated the anniversary of The Dream speech to have a “white civil rights” Tea Party rally, meaning this doesn’t count. Not to mention, throwing Dr. King’s image in the faces of Obama voters isn’t even remotely showing pride in his affiliation to the party either. Exploiting one Republican, whose history and life’s work were so much more than just being a Republican, does not change the party as a whole.

—DD

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